12 Jun 2020

Brisbane's bikeways to be better connected as number of cyclists surge

John Reghenzani started riding to the office earlier this year due to a lack of direct public transport options, but the inner-Brisbane worker says "pandemic anxiety" has solidified his decision, even as restrictions start to ease.

"I am leery of using public transport now," he said.

"By cycling I'm killing many birds with one stone — I'm getting some exercise and having a direct commute to work, all while staying safe."

Mr Reghenzani is not alone.

Brisbane City Council data showed that since the state went into lockdown in late March there had been a major uptake in cycling and walking, while public transport patronage dropped.

The data found that at the peak of the crisis, the number of public transport commuters plummeted by almost 90 per cent.

Meanwhile, council has clocked an extra 1 million people using its bikeways.

Compared to this time last year, users are up 30 per cent on average.

However some paths, on some days, have seen an increase of 90 per cent.

In response to the surge, it was announced yesterday that the Brisbane City Council would team up with the State Government to form the joint Active Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC), to better integrate the bike and walkways with the transport network.

Mr Reghenzani said it was a good move.

"Someone once told me Brisbane cycleways looked like somebody threw a plate of spaghetti on the wall and I thought 'gee that's true'," he said.

"Some places it all links up but not everywhere."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey admitted the two levels of government had not been particularly "well co-ordinated" in the past and the new committee would better achieve this.

"We need to make our active transport networks more seamless which means working closely together," he said.

Councillor Ryan Murphy said the committee will allow the governments to have direct communication on "planning priorities and initiatives".

Cr Murphy said pedestrian and cyclists groups would also be asked for input.

"To more easily collaborate on constructing missing links and improving connectivity," he said.

The committee will now collaborate on the planned 17-kilometre "Veloway 1 Bikeway", that will connect South Brisbane to the Gateway Motorway at Eight Mile Plains.

The North Brisbane Bikeway is also a priority, running between Chermside and the CBD.

'Lagging behind other cities'

Bicycle Queensland chief executive Rebecca Randazzo said state and local government merging to target connectivity was sensible as they both "had the same goals".

While the new committee was a great step forward, she wanted to see new projects with "purposeful infrastructure".

"We're certainly lagging behind other cities to respond to repurposing space for people to cycle and walk," she said.

"They really do need to be responding to the public's appetite."

Queensland Walks executive officer Anna Campbell said the new committee would make Brisbane a more "walkable and liveable city".

"Walking is the most popular form of recreational activity and often undervalued as a transport mode," she said.

Members of the new group are expected to be finalised in the coming days with the first meeting to be held in the coming weeks.

SOURCE : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-27/coronavirus-public-transport-brisbane-bike-paths-popular/12289434

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